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Eczema Center

Eczema Causes and Risk Factors

What causes eczema?
Many things can cause eczema, but the most common cause is a general allergic over-sensitivity, called “atopy”. This is where atopic eczema gets its name, and it is linked with asthma and hay fever. These conditions are often shared amongst family members.

Another cause of eczema is substances that irritate the skin chemically, producing irritant contact dermatitis. Substances include detergent, soap, diesel or engine oil, strong chemicals, cleaners, etc. Eczema can also result from direct contact with allergens including nickel, poison ivy, cosmetics, and rubber products. Infantile eczema often affects babies, caused by moisture from drool or inflammation of the scalp (cradle cap). Varicose veins can lead to stasis dermatitis, a form of eczema affecting the lower legs, also known as varicose or gravitational eczema.

  • allergic over sensitivity
  • chemical irritants
  • direct contact with allegens
  • inflammation of the scalp (babies)
  • moisture from drool (babies)
  • varicose veins

Additionally, the following triggers can worsen cases of eczema:

  • dry skin
  • dryness
  • exposure to environmental irritants
  • exposure to water
  • heat
  • stress
  • temperature change

Risk factors
Risk factors increase the likelihood of experiencing a disease or condition.

The following list outlines possible factors that might contribute to the development of eczema. People genetically predisposed to and/or exposed to environmental triggers can contract eczema. Eczema is most commonly seen in infants, and tends to run in families. This is why it is important to be aware of irritating factors and remove them from the child’s environment. Generally, however, people diagnosed with eczema often have a family history of allergies. Factors that can increase the likelihood that you are diagnosed with eczema include:

Age - Children five years old or younger are more likely to be diagnosed with eczema (eczema is less common after the ages of 5-10).

Environment – People who live in urban areas or places with low humidity are more at risk of developing eczema.

Ethnicity - If you are Black or Asian, you are more likely to be diagnosed with eczema than people of other ethnicities.

Family history – If you have relatives who have been diagnosed with eczema or allergic disorders, you are more at risk of eczema.

Medical conditions – If you are diagnosed with asthma or hay fever, your risk of developing eczema increases.

Self-care measures, like avoiding certain soaps, irritants, and applying creams or soothing ointments, can help relieve itching caused by eczema. Sometimes symptoms can disrupt daily routines or prevent sleeping. But what are the symptoms of eczema? Continue reading here for more information on what does eczema look like.

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